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Filtering by Category: Birth

DADDYING IT: How to be a top notch birth partner

Siobhan Ridley

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So she's pregnant. Now what?!

You have a few months to start preparing for the arrival of your tiny human so take a deep breath and take it slow. Let yourself acclimatise to this new promotion to fatherhood, you're going to be amazing.

You may not be physically growing your child but you still have a vital role in pregnancy and birth. 

So what can you do?

Firstly I'm going to qualify all of this with a bit of science. So we all have hormones surging round our bodies but OXYTOCIN is a magic juice for women. It was present in her body when you made your baby and it's the hormone that powers through labour and birth making the muscles of the uterus work with masterful efficiency. It also has huge role to play in her daily life with her deep connections and stress management. 

When you show her love, when she feels a rush of connection with you, oxytocin is present in her body making her feel great and creating superb bonds between you both as you enter a new phase of your life. A SUPER bonus is that oxytocin crosses the placenta wall and into your baby resulting in a happy, calm and emotionally nourished baby.  

 

HOW CAN I PREPARE FOR BIRTH?

  • Reading and researching

A good bit of filling your brain with useful pregnancy, birth and parenting information will fill you with confidence. When you start researching a topic, you'll begin to discover the answer to questions you never realised you had. As you understand about what is happening to her body and your baby, your relationship with the process will deepen and you'll have a wealth of knowledge to call upon as you go through the journey of pregnancy and birth together. 

Be warned though, there's a lot of frankly patronising and sexist material out there aimed at fathers-to-be, so try before you buy ;).

  • Listening

It's no secret that women like to chat. But it actually goes beyond that. Talking things through is how women manage their anxiety and this is intrinsically linked to the hormone responses in their bodies. The aim of the game is to keep those delicious oxytocin levels up and just sitting, listening to her is a super easy and effective way that you can do this. The testosterone in you will activate your desire to 'fix it'. Resist the urge to fix anything. Just listen, make the right noises and validate her feelings. Her brain will be awash with oxytocin and you'll gain great insight into her fears, desires and wishes for labour and birth. 

  • Planning

Chat with your partner about the kind of birthing experience you both want. Use your new found knowledge of her feelings and birth to formulate some birth preferences that are right for all of you. As you discuss building your ultimate birth squad, you might want to explore the option of a Doula who can support you all preparing for birth, during birth and afterwards.

  • Touch and massage

Whilst we have always known this, recent research has proven that human touch is a natural pain relief. And because of your relationship with your partner, your very touch will create a hormonal response in her. Endorphins (the body's natural pain relief) and oxytocin will fill her body and cross over into baby. She'll feel calmer, happier, supported and safe. Hugging her regularly throughout will make her feel great and deepen your relationship. Caressing her bump is a great way for you to bond with your unborn baby...you may even get some kicks in response (from baby, not her!). Light massage has an even greater positive effect.

  • Preparation

Whenever possible, go to midwife, hospital or consultant appointments as well as scans. I also recommend attending antenatal preparation classes together. Courses like hypnobirthing will teach you a lot about how to become the ultimate birthing team. Another great course is Birthing4Blokes, an online preparation course written specifically for men by a male midwife (it's fab!). 

 

HOW CAN I SUPPORT HER DURING LABOUR AND BIRTH?

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As her oxytocin levels increase in labour, your testosterone levels will do so also leading to an increased need to 'do something'. Here are some active ways to support your partner.

  • Keeper of the birth zone

It's your very important role to ensure that the birthing environment is safe and nurturing. You will have chatted about how she wants the space to be: maybe dimmed lights, comfort, people in the room etc.

  • Take care of yourself

In order to care for your partner, you need to care for yourself. To maintain your energy eat, drink and take some breaks...don't forget to pack your own snack filled hospital bag too :).

  • Take care of her

Prompt her to eat and drink to keep her energy up and remind her to have a wee every now and then.

  • Oxytocin booster

Your voice, your touch, your smell, are all reminders of safety, home, passion, comfort. Your nurturing presence and attentiveness will help keep her calm and maintain her oxytocin levels. Breathe with her, sway with her, hold her and tell her how amazing she is.

 

But your most vital role, is being the expert on her. You are the only one in the room that knows her thoughts, who can read her cues and who knows what you both want for you and your baby. Trust yourself and your instincts.

 

YOUR TINY HUMAN IS HERE: I'M A DAD!

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  • Ensure that your partner remains safe and nurtured during that first hour of motherhood (aptly named 'the Golden Hour') so that she can continue to ride her oxytocin high for as long as possible.

  • Just 'be' in this moment. Hold fire with those announcement texts, tweets, emails, facebook status', snapchats, telegrams etc.

  • Your baby knows you already but deepen that bond further by whipping off your shirt for some newborn skin to skin cuddles.

 

There are lots of wonderful things that come out of your involvement in the birthing process. But most powerfully, you are giving your family the very best start. 

Your new little team. 

#win


This post was originally written for Norwich Mumbler: Local Parenting Community.  You can find this article and so much more info in this brilliant ebook (click on the image for the link):

SCORCHIO: Top tips for birthing in a heatwave

Siobhan Ridley

Photo by  Ignacio Campo  on  Unsplash

Well isn't this British summer shaping up to be utterly glorious!! I'm not going to lie, I was traditionally English about the weather and have been awaiting a prophetic forecast of endless rain and Autumnal like temperatures. However, the browning grass in my garden and the endless blue skies have convinced me that old Helios is here to stay. So here I am, committing to flip flops and baring my hobbit feet. Sorry about that.

Both my babies are summer born. One human arrived in a record breaking hot June and the other human arrived during heavy downpours and punishing winds. Labour in the heat isn't piňa coladas and palm trees (unless you live in the tropics!). It's hot and sweaty and it's really important to maintain your energy. So here are my top tips to keep cool and energised.

 

1. FANS...all the fans

If you don't want your windows open whilst you labour at home, fill your house/flat with fans to keep the air moving and to provide cooling. Your midwife may well turn the fans off as you baby starts to arrive so that it isn't cold for your new tiny human. Those little battery-op hand fans connected to water bottles are great too as they blow a cooling mist around you that you may find less abrupt than a facial spritz. If/when you choose to transfer to hospital you can pop your portable cooling device in your bag. Tiger have them for sale for £3.

2. Cooling spray

A spray bottle with water in it is great for misting your face and refreshing you. You can get some really lovely facial spritzers with essential oils or you can make your own. Essential oils can be a great calming aid and reassuring emotional anchor. DO seek advice from a trained aromatherapist though as they will advise you on dilution proportions and appropriate essential oils for labour.

3. Cold water

Fill up some water bottles with water and have them in the fridge ready for labour. Don't forget that a straw in a bottle makes sipping water far easier as oppose to glugging. It also means your birth partner can just pop the straw into your mouth every now and then without having to interrupt your labouring flow.

4. Ice lollies*

Labour food is super important for keeping those energy reserves up. Pre-make lovely fresh fruit ice lollies and pop them in the freezer ready for sucking on in labour. You can purchase DIY ice lolly holders from most supermarkets and budget stores.

5. Frozen melon and frozen grapes*

Sugary, watery, cooling labour snack. Yumm! Chop up some honey dew melon (avoid watermelon as the pips will get pretty annoying!) and pop it in a tup or zip lock bag in the freezer. If you want to get all fancy you can even bring that melon baller your mother gave you from the 70s out of retirement. Chop grapes in half (long ways) before freezing too.

6. Flannels

Have a pile of flannels on hand for labouring at home so that a member of your birth squad can pop one under the cold tap and mop your brow or place them on your wrists and the back of your neck. Pop extra flannels in your birth bag for any hospital transfer. As a doula I go through quite a few flannels when I support a birth as they are often the overlooked birth bag must have.

7. Bath, shower, birth pool

Use water to cool you. Of course, you are unlikely to want to sit in a cold bath, but a tepid bath or shower will cool you down. Depending on where you are, what you have access to and your labouring situation will depend on what of those aquatic solutions you opt for. If you are birthing in water, the temperature will need to be warmer (34 – 37 C) your baby's arrival.

8. Clothing

Of course, you don't need to wear anything in labour. Although you might want to pop something on if you're moving to hospital. If you do choose to wear clothes, keep them lightweight, loose fitting and easy to remove if you get too warm.

9. After a hospital or maternity unit birth

Most maternity units and delivery suits are air conditioned or have fans. However, if you need to stay in the ward after you've had your baby, you may find that the they're not as well ventilated or cooled. So keep your flannels, hand fans and cool drinks on hand.

 

* A note about labour food: If you pop any pre-made things in the freezer, do make your birth partner aware of what you have prepared and where it is so that you don't have to give rummaging directions in the midst of labour. (I am totally assuming everyone has the 'lucky dip' freezer stacking style that I do). If you are planning on birthing in the hospital, pop a cool bag in the freezer so that your birth partner can decant your frozen snacks into the bag when he/she is preparing the rest of your bags for your transfer.

 

In the UK, we're not that used to roasting hot weather and even the non-pregnant among us can turn into sweaty, lethargic puddles. When you're pregnant, you have additional weight and blood flow which can make hotter temperatures more intolerable. But being hot in labour is not dangerous if it's just due to weather/air temperature and of course, you can be easily cooled. So get your retro on and dig out that melon baller, make some icey snacks (try not to eat them all BEFORE labour) and stay cool as a cucumber.

ABOVE ALL, be calm and confident. You've got this! You've been preparing for the day, you're going to meeting your baby soon, Yay!

SNOW BABY: Top tips for preparing for a snowy labour

Siobhan Ridley

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How gorgeous has this snow been?! My garden actually looks tidy, haha. However, snow isn't great for everyone and we're not the best equipped country when it comes to dealing with a bit of inclement weather. This got me thinking that for those of you who are waiting on a tiny human, it can add an additional worry. It is therefore more important than ever to make small adjustments to your preparations in case your uterus decides this little one is going to be a snow baby.

I've written this particularly with those in mind who are travelling to the hospital/maternity unit to birth their baby. 

 

JOBS FOR BIRTH PARTNERS

THE CAR

To do in the days before

  • Ensure that you have everything for DE-ICING the car actually IN the car so it's easy to hand for journeys both to and from the hospital.

  • Check lights, water in jets, keep petrol TOPPED up. 

  • Keep an eye on encroaching weather...I mean, don't go all out weather nerd but be mindful of any weather warnings.

 

When she goes into labour

  • Start preparing the CAR a good 45mins to 1hour before your intended departure time from home to the hospital:

    • Clear driveway

    • De-ice

    • Check traffic warnings on your route.

    • Hot water bottle on the passenger seat

    • Start the engine to get it all toasty warm

    • Pack lots of towels and blankets

    • Pack the car with all the bags

  • Fully charge PHONES and take all the chargers.

  • Allow plenty of TIME for the car journey. It's a tricky balance, you don't want to leave home any sooner than necessary but you need to account for traffic delays and slow labour-sensitive driving speed.

  • Drive SLOWLY to hospital.

  • Drop mum off at the hospital entrance so she avoids the slippy walk from wherever you park the car. She can also go inside and stay in the warmth.

 

FOR MUMS/MUMS-TO-BE

Waiting for baby

  • In this snowy weather, avoid taking unnecessary journeys in the car and if you do travel ensure your SEAT BELT is positioned properly over your lap and around your bump. Take BLANKETS and snacks in the car and don't travel without a fully charged phone. Phone/text someone before you leave and when you arrive so they know you have arrived safely.

  • In this weather, also avoid walking anywhere too slippy and if you do go out for a walk wear super warm and GRIPPY shoes.

  • If it's your estimated due date or after, and your birth partner is at work despite the snow, consider asking a close relative or friend to come and hang out with you or pop in to say hi. If you do go into labour, you'll have SUPPORT and company whilst you wait for your birth partner to return home (as delays in this weather are possible).

  • Put out lots of warm clothing to pop on before leaving for the hospital/MU.

  • Pack lots of warm clothes for you and baby for the return home.

  • Hot water bottles and snuggly socks. All. Day. Long.

     

Your birthing day

  • Leave dealing with the weather to your birth partner. Your job is to hang out in your oxytocin bubble and ride those contractions (surges).

  • Remember to use your DEEP RELAXATION tools (breathing, visualisations, happy place, self hypnosis etc) particularly for the transition from home to hospital.

  • If at any point you have concerns about your situation phone your midwife.

  • If you're in labour and it becomes apparent that the weather is going to be very disruptive, phone the midwife and perhaps phone 111 or 999 (if it's emergency) in order to have an ambulance at the ready.

     

ABOVE ALL, stay calm and confident. You've got this! You've been preparing for the day, don't let a few snowflakes wobble you, you're going to meeting your baby soon, Yay!